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Registered: Mar 2000
Whenever the summer sun has the temperatures rising, the common overclockers craving for lower temperatures push their way to the surface. Besides the typical and in the meantime wide-spread Peltier-with-watercooling-combinations, cooling systems that gain their performance from a compressor/evaporator combination get more and more affordable and therefore gain in popularity. The so-called "EVA" has left the limit up high, only for the Danish manufacturer Chip-Con and their "Prometeia" to try to push it just a little further and being crowned the new king of cpu-cooling - so far for their plan. In the following review we will present the Prometeia system and will show how to make the hottest cpus rim with frost.
If you're from Austria, Germany or Switzerland you might enjoy reading our German Language Version of the review.
[pagebreak]The Prometeia Cooling System[/pagebreak]
The Prometeia Cooling System
The Prometeia Cooling System is different to the competitor Vapochill and on the other hand somewhat more like the aforementioned "EVA", just that there's a perfectly fitting but yet easily replaceable PC-case supplied as well. On top of the Compressor housing we find a rather standard Midi-Tower, which however contains some valuable features, like dismountable HD/FD-“cage” drawer and CD-Rom Drawer sliding system as well as a preinstalled 80mm Fan. Especially the do-it-yourself people will favour the motherboard-plate, which can be taken out of the case to install the system components. For all those, who don't like Chip-Con’s choice of a Midi-Tower, there's also good news: the Prometeia Cooling System can be separated from the tower PC-Case without much effort. Just loosen a couple of bolts and put the whole thing under your favourite case to create the combination of your “cold nights' dreams”.
In the lower case we not only find the compressor (which is powered totally independent from the computers PSU) and the condensor as well as the controlling device. The machine is vented by two 120mm Sunon fans, that are throttled after the start-up procedure of the compressor and thus do their job in a silent enough manner, not to disturb the sensitive ear; which is definitely more silent than some of Chip-Con's competitors' power-coolers do. The Danes specify the noise level during the start-up as being 42 db(A), followed by 36 db(A) when the fans are throttled. The temperature display in the front bezel of the case shows the temperature of the evaporator and is also in charge of control: up to four different values controlling the fans and the start-up procedure can be manipulated here.
As many already know: the weight of the Prometeia System is enourmous: the scale stop at 27kg without the PSU and any other PC-components installed. This makes the case a somewhat heavy partner when going to LAN-Parties. When unpacking the Prometeia, remember to dismount the green steel barren on the bottom of the case: this only helps to secure the compressor during transport and has to be removed before use.
A hose leads through a hole between the cooling unit and the case, on its end the so-called "Microfreezer" is attached, which is the actual cooling head and evaporator in the system. We are glad to mention, that Chip-Con ships the Prometeia with kits for socket-A/370/7 or alternatively socket-478 CPUs (or both) - this and the very open concept makes the system usable for both present and future CPUs. For example: for upgrading the upcoming Hammer-CPU you just have to get (by that time hopefully) a new Hammer-installation kit (if the current Socket A kit cannot be used). With some other systems you would have to throw away the cooling system as a whole.
It seemed to us that Chip-Con could have spent a bit more time on the finish of the Microfreezer: the copper-head that would go on the DIE (or the heat-spreader on the Pentium IV) was a bit rough and somewhat faded. Maybe a protecting foil made of plastic could help keep the copper-head clean during shipping.
Installation of the Prometeia is quite easy if you have a steady hand. It is also very safe for your beloved hardware if you follow the very good instructions that come with the unit. First a small Rear Cover is mounted on the backside of the motherboard, which is sealed with something that feels like a mixture of chewing gum and plastering. Afterwards a mounting bracket is screwed on top through the four holes close to the socket. It is very important to seal all SMD components that crosses the barrier between the “outside world” and the inside of the hermetic cell, in order to prevent “false” humid air to get sucked into the cell. When we installed the system we could not get the opening of the retaining system to match perfectly with the heat-spreader of the P4. A few millimetres of had to be left with no contact with the copper-surface of the Microfreezer. As this part is not directly over the DIE of the P4 we assume it not to have any significant influence on our test results though.
In that context, Chip-Con told us that these tolerances are unavoidable to keep the Prometeia compatible with as many types of motherboards as possible.
After sealing the upper mounting bracket we fixed the Microfreezer to the retaining system with the two spring loaded screws. The pressure can be regulated via additional spacers. We recommend AMD users to be very careful during this procedure. The concept of installation is however one of the major advantages of the Prometeia System: The material of the Microfreezer, mounting bracket and rear-cover together with the sealing material, leaves the entire CPU area as a hermetically sealed off space. Even at a prolonged period of no load, the material does not feel cold on the outside, so condensation on the outside is not a problem at all.
Throughout out tests the Prometeia System not only yielded incredible performance scores, but also showed that high-end cooling can be something that is easy to install and safe to use. Overclocking results that was formerly only possible during quickly conducted attempts to break records, is now available as a 24/7 stable and trouble free operation. Thanks to the concept of the hermeticly insulated cell around the CPU-area, condensation isn’t a problem even when operating at below-zero temperatures.
Nevertheless there are some room for improvements: The PC-Case on the Prometeia is without doubt not everybody’s „cup of tea“ and although it is fairly easy to replace, it might for some people seem more attractive to obtain the unit without this Case in the first place. Moreover as mentioned earlier, a better finish of the Microfreezer would be welcomed – on both the surface of the Copper cooling head and the fixing of the Plastic Cover over the insulation. Although it cannot be considered a major quality issue, and both problems with relatively small effort can be overcome, these issues should not be present at all, on a product in this price range.
With the increased performance offered by this system, any Hardcore Overclocker can’t help feeling his heart beating a bit faster too, from pure excitement. When you consider a power consumption of +130W from the small surface of a DYE, it seems almost unrealistic to even consider using conventional means of Cooling. At such excessive heat emission even the thermal bridge and interface between the CPU and the Cooler become a major source of increased Core temperatures.
All in all we can only give Prometeia our warmest recommendations – if you have the necessary „pocket change“, and you are in need of some serious High-End flexible Cooling solution, you should go for this one without any further considerations. An order directly at Chip-Con will cost you around 500€ plus VAT and shipping. It should however be noted that possibly local representation here in Austria might be available within the nearest future.
We would like to thank Chip-Con for providing us with the Prometeia, and for their excellent and rapid support. We would also like to thank KK-Computer for providing us with the Kingston PC1066 RIMMs.